LINGUIST List 15.1837

Thu Jun 17 2004

Sum: Relevance Theory Intro

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Michael Kliffer, Intro to Relevance Theory

Message 1: Intro to Relevance Theory

Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 16:11:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: Michael Kliffer <>
Subject: Intro to Relevance Theory

Re: (Linguist 15.1800)

Thanks to all who gave suggestions. Here are the main ones:

Maurizio Tirassa:

Sperber, D., Wilson, D. (1987) Precis of 'Relevance. Communication and
cognition'. ''Behavioral and Brain Sciences'' 10: 697-754.

Don't be mistaken by the number of pages: the whole treatment includes
a) the target article by S&W (actually, a resume of the book), b)
several commentaries from the community of cognitive scientist (not
only pragmaticists), and c) S&W's replies to the commentaries. Thus,
it is highly modular, in that you can choose whatever selection of
article(s) and/or commentaries you like, and very interesting, in that
you can have a whole debate.

Francisco Yus:

The best introduction to RT, to my knowledge, is Diane Blakemore's
book ''Understanding Utterances'' (Blackwell, 1992). Apart from this,
there are many articles covering general issues of the theory. I
published an article in Journal of Pragmatics called ''A decade of
relevance theory'' (1998) which does cover most of the basic
tenets. In any case, you should acces the bibliography on RT which is
available on the Internet at Section 2 of this
page contains bibliography on general issues of RT and, most
interestingly, some of the references can be downloaded from that

Markus Tendahl recommends:

'a good, but slightly untechnical textbook':

Blakemore, Diane. 1992. Understanding Utterances. Oxford: Blackwell.

'a very good and recent version of RT, but too big in its entirety for
your purposes':

Carston, R. 2002. Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit
Communication. Oxford: Blackwell.

'a good and concise introduction to the 'traditional' account of RT':

Sperber, Dan & Deirdre Wilson. 1998. ''Pr�cis of Relevance:
Communication and Cognition.'' In: Kasher, Asa, ed. Vol. V,
82-115. (this article is also available from the journal 'Behavioral
and Brain Sciences')

'a good and concise introduction to the more recent account of RT':

Wilson, D. & Sperber, D. 2003. ''Relevance theory.'' In L.R. Horn &
G. Ward, eds., The handbook of pragmatics (pp. 607-632). Malden, MA &
Oxford: Blackwell.

I am probably going to select the Handbook of Pragmatics article or
the one in Kasher 1998.

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